Kocharethi: The Araya Woman is a book that was first published in Malayalam before being translated into English. It was written by an adivasi writer named Narayan, and it was translated into English by Catherine Thankamma.
Kocharethi, according to Mahasweta Devi, is “one of the first tribal novels.” Because the novel is a component of the developing field of tribal literature, it is important to grasp what tribal literature is at this stage. There are two kinds of tribal writing: oral and written narratives.
The tribal peoples have a rich oral literature that includes songs, stories, and riddles, among other things. Despite the fact that they are older than the mainstream tradition’s written literature, they have been accorded a lesser status than the written word, which is something we may question, yet they have had a significant impact on the written word. Tribal melodies and stories are now transmitted to us via translation. These oral forms have been collected and translated into Indian languages and English by a variety of authors and compilers. Other elements of tribal life are also represented in these tales, in addition to the protest theme. Songs about love, ritual, joy, and grief may be found in their unwritten literature. They’re performed to the accompaniment of musical instruments and show off their festive instincts. They also demonstrate the vibrancy of tribal life. The genre of “written tribal storey” is not limited; in fact, its scope is very broad. Its goal is self-representation, and it aids the quest for tribal identity, or adivasiness. The tribal authors want to dispel the non-tribal writer’s image of adivasi culture as backward, uninvolved, and superstitious via their work. Modern education and social awareness have resulted in written tribal tales. Tribal writing, like Dalit literature, is sensitive to reality and advocates for societal change because it exposes the community’s underlying struggles. In his Presidential Address at the Fifth Adivasi Sahitya Sammelan held in Palghar in Maharastra in December 1990, Waharu Sonawane, a well-known tribal literary activist, described the qualities of tribal literature. Tribal literature, he said, had a “feeling of movement” and is a step toward social action. It is a criticism of society that has evolved out of knowledge and awareness” (20). This may encourage today’s activists to draw inspiration from such stories and push the development process even farther.
Comment on the issue discussed in the novel Kocharethi The Araya Woman.
Besides the works of well-educated tribal authors who have begun producing poems, novels and memoirs about their personal experiences, in many tribal as well as well as renowned Indian languages, which provide tribal authors a forum to express themselves. There are many instances of magazines such as Budhan, Dhol (Drum), Sirjan (Creation), Haryar Sakam (Green Leaf), and Alari (Divine Light). Authors who have established themselves as successful and devoted novelists include the Maharashtrian writers Laxman Mane, Laxman Gaikwad, Kishore Shantabai Kale, and Sarada Prasad ,Mangal Ch. Soren, Kisku, Ramdas Majhi Tudu were from Chotanagpur and Lummer Dai, Rongbong Terang, Easterine Iralu were famous in the North Eastern states. Ramanika Gupta, the editor of Yudh Rat Aam Admi (The Ever-Struggled Common Man), has just published a special edition of the magazine on the tribal topic in two volumes in order to incorporate the works of tribal authors. Poems, folklore, short tales, and dramas are included in the Adivasi Swar Aur Nai Shatabdi (Adivasi Voice and the New Century) volumes. There are fourteen short tales in the 21 volumes, as well as summaries of two novels written in various Indian languages and translated into Hindi. These authors are reacting to a social order that has a history of being exploitative. Their works are concerned with societal awakening and awareness. The emphasis is neither fictional or entertainment-oriented, but rather closely linked to social realities. It is about the indigenous people’s fight for survival, their everyday difficulties, and their hopes and dreams.
Kocharethi by Narayan is the first South Indian tribal fiction. Tribal authors have produced books that are accessible in North East India and Maharashtra, but not in Southern India. Kocharethi, on the other hand, is the first book written by a tribal writer in the area where he lives. The book is set in Kerala and is about the Malayarayar tribe, their history and difficulties in life, as well as their myths, rituals, social conventions, and belief systems. The writer relies extensively on their oral traditions and conjures the tribe’s essence and spirit as if it were existing in the tribe’s mind. The book was released in 2011 and was translated by Catherine Thankamma and presented by G.S. Jayshree. The book won three major prizes the year it was released in Malayalam. It offers us an insider’s perspective as Narayan records the changes that take place in the lives of the people of the foothills of the Western Ghats as they juggle the interests of modernity, as G.S.Jayshree correctly pointed out in her introduction. It’s worth delving into Narayan’s methods for making the book an insider’s perspective. Before getting into these methods, it’s worth noting that Narayan, as an adivasi writer, is dissatisfied with how many non-tribal authors portray his people in their works. As he explains below, this prompted him to create the book. In the interview that is attached to the book, he says the following:
One factor was the increasing awareness that creative writing was in the hands of the upper classes, and that the societies depicted in such works belonged to them. When depicted, the adivasi appears as a monochrome figure, similar to the mythical rakshasan or nishacharan. He was usually painted in a negative light, as indifferent, incapable of reacting to injustice or worse, unnatural or subhuman, and cruel. … He only existed to be conquered and/or slain by the forces of morality and righteousness, which were symbolised by the higher classes. The asuran/kaattaalan was the tribe (demon). The demons are referred to as rakshasan, nishacharan, and asuran in Hindu mythology, with the connotative meaning of being uncultured and having to be slain by a diety holding a shoolam (trident) or a savarna (uppercaste) of divine ancestry. A handful of us decided to stand up to such skewed portrayal. We wanted to show the rest of the world that we have our own unique way of life and value system. (208-209 Narayan)
Many authors and reviewers, including Ayyappa Paniker and Mahasweta Devi, have praised the book. It is considered “a wonderful work” by Mahasweta Devi. “A seminal piece,” says Catherine Thankamma, who translated it into English. A tribal writer writes about his tribe and its experiences in this book. The Malayarayar community, which resides in Kerala’s Western Ghats, is the subject of this investigation. Narayan is a member of this group. In Malayalam, the term Mala means hills, while “arayar” is said to be derived from the word arachar, which means king. Perhaps this town used to have control over the hills. They were, in other terms, the lords of the hills. The book is about their lives and experiences as they adapt to shifting socioeconomic and cultural circumstances. The tribals’ views on land have shifted as well. They used to have a different connection with land, but today it is a part of the changing process. Modernity has also been a source of contention for the community. Another element of the book is that it describes how Adivasi identity is created. Narayan makes an effort to portray his group as a separate entity with its own set of cultural traditions.
He describes the people’s rituals, mythology, and worldview in great detail. The book also addresses themes such as indigenous women, sexuality, marriage, pregnancy, and childbirth. Narayan also tries to piece together the past. These are some of the problems that the book may address. We should attempt to trace these problems concealed in the text when we do a careful reading of the book.